Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein: ‘The odds of a bad outcome have gone up’


CNN’s Christine Romans, in an interview airing on Wednesday, asked Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, “what could possibly go wrong” in this roaring economy? His answer should send shivers through the investor community:

‘I haven’t felt this good since 2006.’

For one moment, we were all Christine Romans when she replied, “yeah, that’s not what I want to hear.” Needless to say, everybody was feeling pretty good about the economy and the stock market back then, until the wheels fell off and the financial system was pushed to the brink of collapse.

This, obviously, was not lost on Blankfein, as his chuckle made clear. The truth is, the Goldman boss does have plenty of concerns, including fears that a spending spree by the Trump administration could overheat the U.S. economy.

“The odds of a bad outcome have gone up,” he said, explaining that the economy was already growing nicely before the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, $300 billion of additional spending, and now, the proposed a $200 billion infrastructure package.

“Don’t forget, all of these deficits have to be paid for,” and all this stimulus could be “too much of a good thing,” he said.

Blankfein knows all too well what can happen under such conditions.

 “If the economy starts to overheat, and the Fed feels that it’s behind” it will need to act, Blankfein said, pointing to the period leading to the dot-com bubble.

“I remember 1994,” he said. “That’s possible, too. That would be quite jarring to the economy.” At that time, the Federal Reserve tried to keep inflation in check with a hefty does of rate hikes that took Wall Street by surprise.

Despite his concerns, Blankfein’s “base case” remains that the economy will remain on track, though he’s urging caution moving forward for retail investors.

“I’d be planning for the contingency that this turns out to be a worse time than people are thinking,” Blankfein told Romans. “With the Fed raising rates, with the withdrawal of QE, with the budget deficit widening out, I wouldn’t say this is the time I would max out on my risk.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, risk-on is back. For now. The Dow Jones Industrial was last up 171 points in another volatile session.